Monday, November 30, 2015

Middle Grade Monday: Treasure, by S. Smith


Title: Treasure (Seed Savers #1)
Author: S. Smith
Published: 2012, 221 pages
Source: I either purchase the 3-volume Seed Savers set or picked it up on a free day. Naturally, I can't recall because it sat on my Kindle for months before I read it. It is only right to disclose that the author and I are both members of the "BookElves" group, but my review is in any case my honest opinion.

Publisher's Summary:
It’s 2077. There’s no apocalypse, but some things are different. Things like the weather, the internet, and food. In twelve-year-old Clare’s world, blueberry is just a flavor and apples are found only in fairy tales.

Then one day Clare meets an old woman who teaches her about seeds and real food. The woman (Ana) tempts Clare with the notion that food exists other than the square, processed, packaged food she has always known. Under Ana’s tutelage, Clare and her friends learn about seeds and gardening despite suspicions that such actions are illegal.

When the authorities discover the children’s forbidden tomato plant and arrest their mother, Clare and her brother flee. Clare has heard of a place called "The Garden State," and with their bikes, a little money, and backpacks, the children begin a lonely cross-country journey that tests them both physically and spiritually. Will they succeed in their quest to find a place of food freedom?  And can they, only children, help change the world?

Treasure is a gentle dystopian, frightening only in the possibility that we may not be far from the future it paints.

My Review:
The entire concept of the Seed Savers series is a bit chilling, primarily because, as the publisher's blurb states, it paints a future we can easily see coming our way. But the story itself is not edge-of-the-seat frightening, and would be suitable for most children of 9-12. Clare is a likable heroine, and if she and her little brother get along a bit unbelievably well, they have good reason to stick together, especially once they are on the run. 

I found the beginning of the story a little slow. It takes time for Clare, Dante and their friend Lily to learn about the whole idea of seeds and growing plants, which is understandable, but the story might do better to move more quickly through this. For me, the story takes hold when the food police (as it were) arrest Clare & Dante's mother and the kids flee. Their view of the world has been pretty circumscribed, not just with regard to food, and we see them growing and expanding as their world does. I can't help liking that they make their escape to Canada by bicycle, nor do I miss that the heavy guard the border carries is to keep people IN the US, not out.

One thing which made me a little uncomfortable was the use of religion in the story. I kind of get it, but it doesn't seem necessary to have them be religious, nor does it seem necessary to the story to focus so on prayer and scripture (well, maybe the latter makes some sense, because it is partly the Bible's agrarian roots that sabotage the efforts to make everyone forget where food comes from; this works because while the government controls science education, they have apparently chosen to leave religion alone, a plausible development in today's world). I might like to see a more overt consideration of the implications of religion, not as a means for the children to pray and make things okay, but as something which seems to be simultaneously a controlling tool of the government--and the source of the rebellion. That might be asking a bit much of a children's book, though!

This book and its premise are (pardon me) food for thought that everyone should consider. Those whose children are not Christian may need to talk about the religious aspects, but that doesn't seem so bad either (everyone should be willing to read about people of other religions). And everyone, of whatever age, would do well to ask themselves where their food comes from--and in the case of the vast bulk of processed foods in our stores, what it might be made of.  
Full Disclosure: I purchased the Seed Saver boxed set on a sale or free day, of my own will and desire, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  


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  1. Thank you for the thoughtful review!

  2. Replies
    1. We knew that. I'll have to go look up your review now. A couple of others that I can read now, as well, since I've written mine.


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